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MONTEVERDE AREA

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COSTA RICA
LOCALE

# Species:366
# Excl Vagrants:366
# Endemics:1
# Near Endemics:38
Habitat: Cloud forest

ABOUT THE BIRDING

Monteverde was originally settled as a Quaker farming community in 1951 by people refusing to register for the military draft on religious grounds. It remained the same for over 20 years until the surrounding forests were purchased by the World Wildlife Fund in a (futile) effort to preserve the last remaining habitat of the then endemic but now extinct Golden Toad. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve and other nearby reserves have become a major attraction for birders and nature enthusiasts. People are drawn to the area from all over the world, which has turned the area into a major tourist destination. For this reason, the nearby Costa Rican ("tico") village of Santa Elena has become a bustling tourist town with numerous shops, hotels, and restaurants. In stark contrast the village of Monteverde remains virtually invisible today because homes are scattered about within the forest. Descendents of early Quaker settlers are divided on the desirability of the tourist influx, with some supporting its economic benefits while others oppose all the development and traffic. The latter people continue to resist efforts at paving the road up to the community in hopes of discouraging even greater tourist traffic.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve is about 6 miles up the road from Santa Elena, and it's numerous trails offer superb birding opportunities from mid-elevation nvery early up to the ridge of the Continental Divide. The Hummingbird Gallery just outside the entrance area is a wonderful place for observing as many as 10 species of hummingbirds up close and personal. Santa Elena Cloud Forest Preserve is another protected forest area at slightly higher elevation and is a more reliable place for seeing Three-wattled Bellbirds during nesting season. The resounding calls of these birds carry over 2 miles across the valleys and can be heard throughout the area in spring (Jan-Feb). In addition, Resplendent Quetzals nest in the cloud forests. During early spring they are often seen around the entrance to Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve and sometimes even in the village of Santa Elena. Later in spring they move higher up in the forest and are most easily found in Santa Elena Preserve, though they can also be found at higher elevations of Monteverde Preserve.

LOCATION OF SITE

Monteverde and neighboring Santa Elena are thriving tourist destinations located on the Pacific slope of the Tileran Cordillera (Mountain Range) in northern Costa Rica. The area is best reached by a very bumpy gravel access road from the Pan American Highway. Though bumpy, the access road is much improved over its condition some 30 years ago when it was impassable to buses and cars and was much narrower and more pot-holed. It takes about 3½ hours to drive to Santa Elena from San Jose. From the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, Monteverde can be reached via an extremely pot-holed paved road from Arenal Volcano National Park followed by 35 miles of bone-jarring washboard gravel road or by a combination of jeep and boat transfer across Lake Arenal (which can be arranged through a number of hotels and lodges).